Release Rs 284-cr dues of sugarcane growers immediately: SAD to Congress govt

Sukhbir said that Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was "impervious to the suffering of the farmers".

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday asked the Congress government in the state to “ensure outstanding dues of Rs 284 crore of sugarcane growers were released immediately” besides calling for “an increase in the State Assured Price (SAP) of cane.”

It asserted that if these demands were not met, the party would launch an agitation to ensure justice for sugarcane growers.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting of the SAD which was presided over by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal at the party headquarters here, a spokesperson of SAD said.

“The meeting noted that it was a matter of concern that cooperative mills owed farmers Rs 188 crore, including Rs 107 crore dues of the 2019-20 crushing season and Rs 81 crore for the ongoing season. It said private sugar mills owed farmers Rs 96 crore,” the spokesperson said.

Sukhbir said that Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was “impervious to the suffering of the farmers”. He said even as cooperative mills were defaulting on regular payments to farmers, the government had not directed private sugar mills to clear the outstanding dues of farmers.

He said all dues of farmers should be cleared along with the interest quotient. “The Sugarcane Control Order and Clause 3 (3) of the Sugarcane Purchase and Regulation Act states that sugar mills must make payments within 14 days of purchase or else pay interest on the late payment. The government should observe this Act and ensure justice is done to the farmers,” Sukhbir said.

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“The party meeting also reminded the chief minister that since the agriculture portfolio was with him, he should not allow private sugar mills to break rules and regulations and go unpunished. It said the sugarcane crop helped farmers diversify from wheat and in case the growers were not paid in time, it would damage the diversification plans of the state besides leading to further distress among farmers and cause an agrarian crisis,” the party spokesperson said.

“The SAD also demanded that the government increase the SAP of sugarcane in Punjab in the current season itself saying the state had not increased the SAP for the last three years. It said due to this while the SAP of cane was Rs 310 per quintal in Punjab, both Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were paying their farmers an SAP of Rs 350 per quintal. The SAP in Punjab should be increased to Rs 350 per quintal in the current season itself and dues accumulated on account of this should be paid with retrospective effect,” the spokesperson added.

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